A computer science student concocted a phishing scam where he sent 9,700 text messages pretending to be employees of Virgin Media, Three, and HM Revenue and Customs.
David Kadanga, 22, is said to have “reveled” in his ability to trick unsuspecting cell phone users before being arrested at his student accommodation in June last year after workers at Three alerted authorities.
Police discovered that he had obtained the details of more than 250 bank accounts from people who had been taken in by the “plausible” looking bogus websites he had set up to collect their information.
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He had also dishonestly used a victim’s bank account to launder a counterfeit check for Â£ 24,000 and commit other frauds.
Laura Pitman, prosecutor, said Kadanga knew exactly what he was doing and, as part of his degree, researched computer law and cybersecurity – in which he gave an example of fraud as that “person pretending to be legitimate”.
He was suspended from college after pleading guilty last month to two counts of fraud through misrepresentation and possession of items for fraudulent purposes, such as cell phones and computers.
Judge Timothy Spencer QC said: âIt was a sophisticated, persistent and far-reaching fraud.
“He found it easy to rip people off and the whole thing snowballed dramatically.”
During the sentencing, the judge told Kadanga: âIt is clear that you revel in how you can find other ways to swindle people with their money.
âI saw a script for another NatWest Bank scam, which you can imagine being read to trick customers into believing they had been the victim of fraud and needed to hand over vital details immediately.
âIn the tax refund scam you got over Â£ 6,500 – but another Â£ 14,000 was stopped.
âThe fraud would have continued if you had been caught.
âIn contrast, you come from a decent, hard-working family and your parents, who sacrificed for your education, would have been immensely proud.
âThey are not here today.
Kadanga told the judge his parents were unaware of the court hearing.
Judge Spencer said: “This is going to be a difficult conversation.”
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He added: “You have no previous convictions, there are a variety of good references about you and there is hope for rehabilitation – and you were only 20 at the time of the offenses.
“I think you were immature and got carried away.
âIf you had been an adult you would go to jail for about three years. “
James McCrindell, mitigating, said: âHe really has remorse.
âYou could say he’s sorry because he’s been caught, there’s definitely an element to it, but the PSR describes him as ashamed and embarrassed, which is in accordance with my instructions.
âHe took an extremely serious and wrong turn when he went to college and lost his sense of a proper approach – he got lost.
“He has a better side and I hope this issue has been resolved by the shock of his arrest and prosecution.
“I hope he can be steered on the right track.
âThere have been no other problems since these cases.
“He knows the prison is staring him in the face.”
Kadanga, from Trenholme Close, Penge, south-east London, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years.